One of the most comforting sights that the Boston Red Sox had for most of last season was the defense of Shane Victorino in right field. He quite simply played the best right field that Red Sox fans have seen since Dwight Evans. Victorino is that good.
Victorino has had a malady of nagging injuries and a lot of that is due to how hard he plays the game. The man literally gives every inch of himself in everything he does out on the field. He is recovering from offseason surgery and he has been sidelined quite a bit with discomfort in his side. He has been playing more recently, though, so that does appear to be a good sign that he will be ready by opening day.
It is extremely important that Victorino is healthy going into the regular season. It appears as though Grady Sizemore is going to make the team as the leadoff hitter and center fielder. He has missed the last two seasons, however, and has a history of injury issues that have been so bad that I worry if he sneezes wrong, he could be out for a month.
If both Sizemore and Victorino are out for any length of time, more than likely the backups would be Daniel Nava in center and Jonny Gomes in right. Both are good players and can bring a lot to the table, but neither of them have defensive capabilities that can even compare.
Victorino is so good on defense, when a ball gets hit out to him, you have absolutely no worries that he might miss the play. If Boston is going to have any chance of making another title run, they need him as healthy as possible. There really aren’t good replacement options if he is out for a while.